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John Burroughs, one of the greatest naturalist this country ever had, said he felt that there are just two classes of people in the world.... By 'the quick,' he meant people who look at the world and see it; people who listen to the world and hear it; people who get a message from it. The quick are people who are sensitized; the send out antennae. They get the meaning of the world. In other words, they are alive, they are alert, they are vibrant. As for 'the dead people, while they aren’t dead physically, they are dead from the standpoint of sensitivity. They never grapple with ideas, or try new ways of doing things. They are dead in the spirit. They live on the surface.

Wednesday
Jan 27, 2021

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About John Milton Cage Jr.

John Milton Cage Jr.

John Milton Cage Jr.

John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 - August 12, 1992) was an American composer. A pioneer of chance music, electronic music and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde and the most influential American composer of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage's romantic partner for the most part of the latter's life.

Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″ , the three movements of which are performed without a single note being played. Although 4′33″ in fact consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed, it is frequently erroneously perceived as four minutes, thirty three seconds of silence and has become one of the most controversial compositions of the century. Another famous creation of Cage's is the prepared piano (a piano with its sound altered by placing various objects in the strings), for which he wrote numerous dance-related works and a few concert pieces, the most well-known of which is Sonatas and Interludes (1946 - 48).

His teachers included Henry Cowell (1933) and Arnold Schoenberg (1933 - 35), both known for their radical innovations in music, but Cage's major influences lay in various Eastern cultures. Through his studies of Indian philosophy and Zen Buddhism in the late 1940s, Cage came to the idea of chance-controlled music, which he started composing in 1951. The I Ching , an ancient Chinese classic text on chance events, became Cage's standard composition tool for the rest of his life. In a 1957 lecture, Experimental Music, he described music as "a purposeless play" which is "an affirmation of life - not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we're living".

In addition to his composing, Cage was also a philosopher, writer, artist, printmaker and an avid amateur mycologist and mushroom collector.

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